Acrimonious Debate Over Sex Education in the Philippines
July 12, 2006
The educational module "Adolescent Sexual Health," though not yet released to all high schools in the Philippines, has already drawn heavy criticism from the Roman Catholic Church, pro-life activists, and some parents.
"The way it is being taught lacks the reverence, the refinement that the subject matter demands," said Jo Imbong, legal officer of the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines. Deciding when to teach children about sex should be left to their parents, he said.
But Professor Corazon Raymundo, director of the University of the Philippines' Population Institute (UPPI), said sex education in schools is necessary because it is not in the nation's culture for parents to discuss sex with their children.
The education department, which presented the module as a response to the nation's booming population growth, emphasized it is not a sex manual but rather a teaching guide dealing with family planning, reproductive health, and the dangers of early and pre-marital sex. According to a UPPI survey, 23 percent of Filipinos ages 15-24 engaged in pre-marital sex in 2002, up from 18 percent in 1994. The prevalence of high-risk sexual behaviors among adolescents rose from 20 percent in 1994 to 27 percent in 2002. Further, this age group now accounts for 17 percent of all induced abortions in the nation.
"It's high time that the ignorance of adolescents be addressed in a way that will allow them to make an informed choice," said Solita Monsod, former economic planning secretary.
Now, however, education officials have responded to the criticism by withdrawing the module "for further communications among stakeholders." Before it is returned to schools, some sections will be revised, said Lolita Andrada, the module's editor and the director of the Bureau of Secondary Education. In particular, the section on safe sex, which some viewed as a promotion of promiscuity, will be rewritten, Andrada said.
07.12.06; John Grafilo
This article was provided by CDC National Prevention Information Network. It is a part of the publication CDC HIV/Hepatitis/STD/TB Prevention News Update.